Strange Horizons, June 12, 2017

Monday, 12 June 2017 21:43 Victoria Silverwolf

Strange Horizons, June 12, 2017

"The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward" by Natalia Antonova

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

Set in an unidentified nation with an ineffectual, corrupt government, "The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward" by Natalia Antonova is a dark and brooding tale of magic realism. The narrator, who is unnamed, lives in a world where apartment buildings can be full of ghosts and a fox stole can bark when trouble is near. These fantastic events are accepted in the same way as more mundane happenings. Early in the story the narrator is subjected to a traumatic event. Despite the obvious horror of such an occurrence, it is described in the same calm, matter-of-fact tone as the rest of the story. A cold, distant mood is created by the fact that only two of the characters are given names, and these are only single initials. (Perhaps an allusion to Franz Kafka is intended.) Further violent and tragic events occur, although there is a touch of hope at the end. Many readers will find this story disturbing, despite that fact that it is difficult to become emotionally connected to it.

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